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Skoda Karoq 2023 review: Style

Skoda Karoq - a good family 'all-rounder' medium SUV that might surprise you.

After a week driving the updated Skoda Karoq (pronounced ka-ROCK) with my family, I'm pitching this as an ‘all-rounder'.

It's large enough for the family's odd roadie but compact enough to handle tight city streets. It's also easy for the oldies to understand but its design will still appeal to younger drivers. It's not perfect (what car is) but it has some cool features, like being able to remove all of the back seats - which is a pretty unusual feature on any car. If you can get past the Ikea mentality when it comes to price building (everything costs extra), then it might surprise you.

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What does it look like?

It's a stylish looking vehicle and it's very obvious that it shares a lot of DNA with its cousins, the Volkswagen Tiguan and Cupra Ateca. In fact, side by side on the street, there's not heaps of differences between the Ateca's and Karoq's shapes.

The nose is really interesting with Skoda's signature ‘toothy' black grille and badge but the wide air-intake vent creates a sporty look, which is carried through with the crisp body lines and sharp cutaways at the base of the doors and rear. The LED daytime running lights and sequential indicator lights at the rear help to make this look both smart and fresh, meaning it should have a longer design shelf life than some medium SUVs.

  • Skoda Karoq - a good family 'all-rounder' medium SUV that might surprise you. (image: Glen Sullivan) Skoda Karoq - a good family 'all-rounder' medium SUV that might surprise you. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • It’s a stylish looking vehicle and it’s very obvious that it shares a lot of DNA with its cousins, the Volkswagen Tiguan and Cupra Ateca. (image: Glen Sullivan) It’s a stylish looking vehicle and it’s very obvious that it shares a lot of DNA with its cousins, the Volkswagen Tiguan and Cupra Ateca. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The wide air-intake vent creates a sporty look, which is carried through with the crisp body lines and sharp cutaways at the base of the doors and rear. (image: Glen Sullivan) The wide air-intake vent creates a sporty look, which is carried through with the crisp body lines and sharp cutaways at the base of the doors and rear. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The nose is really interesting with Skoda’s signature ‘toothy’ black grille and badge. (image: Glen Sullivan) The nose is really interesting with Skoda’s signature ‘toothy’ black grille and badge. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • It should have a longer design shelf life than some medium SUVs. (image: Glen Sullivan) It should have a longer design shelf life than some medium SUVs. (image: Glen Sullivan)

The interior is well-thought out too and feels more cohesive than its cousins and it's here that the Karoq outshines them. The dashboard looks practical but the mixed materials stop it looking too plain. There also seems to be a better blend of materials so that you don't notice the harder plastics as much, which can make even the nicest car feel cheaper.

The Karoq also has some cool and bold colour options, which seems rare nowadays in the current sea of grey that most cars seem to swim in. The Karoq I've been driving is a bright orange and it's been very easy to find it in a car park.

  • The LED daytime running lights and sequential indicator lights at the rear help to make this look both smart and fresh. (image: Glen Sullivan) The LED daytime running lights and sequential indicator lights at the rear help to make this look both smart and fresh. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The LED daytime running lights and sequential indicator lights at the rear help to make this look both smart and fresh. (image: Glen Sullivan) The LED daytime running lights and sequential indicator lights at the rear help to make this look both smart and fresh. (image: Glen Sullivan)

How does it drive?

The Style only has one type of engine available but it has enough punch to feel responsive, even at lower speeds. It's tackles hills without too much fuss but I have struggled this week keeping a consistent speed. On the open road, I find I'm toeing the accelerator or brake much more than I usually do.

The eight-speed automatic transmission makes the gear changing feel supple. The suspension feels soft and forgiving, making for a rather smooth ride. Beware corners though, as there's a fair amount of roll but passengers will notice this more than the driver (as my dear Mother pointed out as we hit some bends).

The Style only has one type of engine available but it has enough punch to feel responsive, even at lower speeds. (image: Glen Sullivan) The Style only has one type of engine available but it has enough punch to feel responsive, even at lower speeds. (image: Glen Sullivan)

Unfortunately, it's pretty loud in the cabin with wind noise but you tend to only notice it at higher speeds. It's not so loud you have to yell over it but you won't forget it's there, which is a shame.

Because of its size, it's simple to navigate even a tight car park. The reversing camera is very clear and the sensors feel accurate. The 360-degree camera and park assist (both available as a part of an optional pack) have also been good to have for trickier spots.

The suspension feels soft and forgiving, making for a rather smooth ride. (image: Glen Sullivan) The suspension feels soft and forgiving, making for a rather smooth ride. (image: Glen Sullivan)

How spacious is it?

It's not a massive car and front passengers will benefit the most from the comfort and space. The rear seat is relatively comfortable as the seats are well padded and it has good headroom but legroom could be better.

The storage pockets (glovebox and middle console etc) are okay and manage to scrape through in terms of practicality. Where they fall short, the boot more than makes up for it.

  • It’s not a massive car and front passengers will benefit the most from the comfort and space. (image: Glen Sullivan) It’s not a massive car and front passengers will benefit the most from the comfort and space. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The rear seat is relatively comfortable as the seats are well padded and it has good headroom but legroom could be better. (image: Glen Sullivan) The rear seat is relatively comfortable as the seats are well padded and it has good headroom but legroom could be better. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The boot and rear seat stowage options are the standout interior features for me. (image: Glen Sullivan) The boot and rear seat stowage options are the standout interior features for me. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • You get quite a bit in the Premium Pack (synthetic leather seats, electric and heated front seats, heated rear outboard seats … plus a few others). (image: Glen Sullivan) You get quite a bit in the Premium Pack (synthetic leather seats, electric and heated front seats, heated rear outboard seats … plus a few others). (image: Glen Sullivan)

The boot and rear seat stowage options are the standout interior features for me. They are by far the most practical use of the interior space and their components well-thought out. The back row is made up of three individual seats that can be folded as such or simply removed (also individually) to create some great storage options for gear.

There's a clever rail and hook system, numerous nets, anchors and even retractable hooks in the back of each back row seat. You're spoiled for choice when it comes to securing your gear.

The boot is surprisingly large just by itself (588L VDA, to be exact) and deep enough to handle three CarsGuide luggage cases easily. When the back row is folded, the capacity jumps up to a whopping 1810L (VDA) – that figures rivals most large SUVs.

  • The boot is surprisingly large just by itself (588L VDA, to be exact). (image: Glen Sullivan) The boot is surprisingly large just by itself (588L VDA, to be exact). (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The back row is made up of three individual seats that can be folded as such or simply removed (also individually) to create some great storage options for gear. (image: Glen Sullivan) The back row is made up of three individual seats that can be folded as such or simply removed (also individually) to create some great storage options for gear. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The boot is deep enough to handle three CarsGuide luggage cases easily. (image: Glen Sullivan) The boot is deep enough to handle three CarsGuide luggage cases easily. (image: Glen Sullivan)

How easy is it to use every day?

It is not a hard car to understand and you'll enjoy the simplicity of it. That's not to say it's boring, far from it, but even oldies will be able to strap in and go without too much angst.

The lower height of the car means its easy to get in and out of and I didn't have to help my five-year old at all this week. The square and wide door apertures are great, as it's a lot harder to knock your head when you get in, which is always great if you have to buckle in a kid every day like I do.

The dashboard looks practical but the mixed materials stop it looking too plain. (image: Glen Sullivan) The dashboard looks practical but the mixed materials stop it looking too plain. (image: Glen Sullivan)

The interior design is practical. The dial panel on the dash is sloped to make it easier to see when you're on the road. Most of buttons themselves are pretty standard in size but there's a ‘highlight' row that features much bigger buttons that standout - which makes it a good spot to put the door lock and optional park assist buttons.

Surprisingly, given everything else costs extra, all  grades of the Karoq come with a powered tailgate with kick function, which is always a great feature when you have your hands full of gear, kids or both!

How safe is it?

The Karoq comes with some good standard safety features, like: auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, reversing camera, as well as, front and rear parking sensors to name a few. But crucially, unlike most of its rivals, it doesn't have blind spot monitoring or rear cross-traffic alert available on the Style grade at all, and nor is lane keeping assistance fitted as standard. This is an anomaly in the family SUV market, and really, quite perplexing! I definitely would have liked to have seen these all as standard features.

It has the usual airbags, including a driver's knee airbag and has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating but testing was done a while ago in 2017.

There are ISOFIX mounts on the rear outboard seats as well as three top tether child seat mounts. (image: Glen Sullivan) There are ISOFIX mounts on the rear outboard seats as well as three top tether child seat mounts. (image: Glen Sullivan)

There are ISOFIX mounts on the rear outboard seats as well as three top tether child seat mounts, but just two car seats will be a more comfortable fit. It was easy to fit my big harnessed booster seat and while legroom was fine once my son was seated, it was squishy for him to get into his seat.

Space can get tight for front occupants when a 0-4 rearward facing child seat is installed. Particularly on the driver's side if you're tall.

What's the tech like?

The tech is okay but won't blow your socks off. The 9.2-inch touchscreen multimedia system (part of an option pack, the standard size is 8.0 inches) is easy enough to use, even if the graphics aren't thrilling but the 10-inch digital instrument panel is easy to read and customisable, which is always a plus.

It has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and it's been easy to connect my iPhone 8 Plus, but it does have built-in satellite navigation. There is a handy wireless charging pad for your smartphone too but if you can't get the connection going, there are also two USB-C ports and a 12-volt port up front.  It's just disappointing that the back seat passengers miss out on USB ports, however, there is a 12-volt port should they need one.

It has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and it’s been easy to connect my iPhone 8 Plus. (image: Glen Sullivan) It has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and it’s been easy to connect my iPhone 8 Plus. (image: Glen Sullivan)

How much does it cost to own?

There are only two models for the Karoq, the range topping Sportline and the model I've been driving, the Style. It will cost you $41,490 before on-road costs to own but here's the rub (at least, for me), because if you like getting a lot of features, then the Style might not be for you.

Our Karoq has been fitted with optional metallic paint and the Premium Pack and that adds a hefty $12,000 to the base price. You get quite a bit in the Premium Pack (synthetic leather seats, electric and heated front seats, heated rear outboard seats … plus a few others) but the extra cost makes the initial price feel like clickbait.

Our Karoq has been fitted with optional metallic paint and the Premium Pack and that adds a hefty $12,000 to the base price. (image: Glen Sullivan) Our Karoq has been fitted with optional metallic paint and the Premium Pack and that adds a hefty $12,000 to the base price. (image: Glen Sullivan)

The official combined fuel cycle is 6.5L/100km and I achieved 7.2L/100km after a mix of urban and open road driving. That's pretty good considering its size but expect the figure to be higher if you do mostly city driving.

The Karoq comes with the average warranty cover of five-years/unlimited km.

You can pre-purchase either five or seven years of capped-priced servicing. The seven-year option averages $342 per service, which is very competitive for this class. Servicing intervals are reasonable at every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever occurs first.

My son loved the colour of this one and was very helpful in pointing it out when we were in car parks. (image: Glen Sullivan) My son loved the colour of this one and was very helpful in pointing it out when we were in car parks. (image: Glen Sullivan)


The Wrap

The Skoda Karoq Style has been a really nice car to hop into every day. It drives well and the practicality of the boot space helps to soften the disappointment over the, at times, squishy back seat. This will probably suit a small family best. I would have liked the optional safety features to just be included as standard and the pricey optional Premium Pack feels a little cheeky when the seats aren't even leather. But even with all the add-ons, it's still a nicely packaged family SUV for under $60K. So, this gets an 8/10 from me.

My son loved the colour of this one and was very helpful in pointing it out when we were in car parks. There wasn't a lot of room in the back seat but he seemed content. He gave it a 7/10.

Likes

Sporty design
Excellent storage at rear
Easy to drive

Dislikes

Missing some important safety features
Squishy backseat
Everything costs extra

Scores

Emily:

4

The Kids:

3.5

$33,990 - $64,460

Based on 99 car listings in the last 6 months

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